The Escape From My Pandemonium by Tiarri Washington

This pandemic has molded my world into something I no longer recognize. A routine I follow through muscle memory while my mind is distanced from the surrounding chaos. Every day, my computer, the color of stewed cherries, is perched in front of me as I sit at my dining room table. My mind wanders and I struggle to find the clarity to care enough to take notes on formulas and upcoming assessments. From nine to twelve, my mind is as detached from my body, as I am from the rest of the world. 

It’s only at the slightly tardy stroke of 1:47 when the call connects to Creative Writing 1 that I begin to feel something. Creative Writing 1, is meant for us freshmen and sophomores to be introduced to the basics of CW: the literary critiques, poetry devices, and more that will aid us in our success as writers from then on. Taught by the department director, Heather Woodward, who has taken time, two weeks, thus far to teach us the process and thinking behind the analysis. Yes, our whole group discussions, reviews, and workshops can be unnerving and overwhelming, especially to newcomers. Yet, our teacher takes time from our classes to stray away from the technique and allow us to breathe and enjoy each other’s presence. 

In class, I hear Heather’s bright and joyous, “Hello Tiarri,” followed by random music from varying genres. We’ve heard the unforgettable lyrics of Billie Holiday to the shivering reeds and sensual voices of Soul Train. During this, the chat, filled with sass, compliments, humor, and bribery never fails to bring a smile to my face. These few minutes serve as a gradual transition into the class, followed by a warm-up, given by another student, that explores unique prompts that lean on poetic devices. 

One day out of the week, we’ll break away from all teaching and dance to Youtube videos so our sophomores can receive their PE credit. At the following dance session, we are graded on our performance before we start for the day. This serves as a great motivator and makes the dancing even more entertaining. I currently hold a solid 9.75/12, a decent score that I assure I will increase in the upcoming weeks. Despite the freshman not being required to do partake, most of us enjoy the break anyway. 

I must also note the casual flow of CW 1. This period from routine more often than not. Sometimes, an existential question may come up in the midst of a discussion, that grips everyone’s attention. We abandon the to-do list for the day and casually ponder our lives, desires, and even such a mundane topic like conversations we had with a hairdresser. Before we know it, it’s well past two and our time with each other is up. 

I say all of that to say that CW 1, is a pleasurable suspension from the mayhem of typical online classes. All of these activities, with these people, allow me to tune out the noise of my home, tether my mind with my body again, and connect with people outside the four white walls of my dining room.

Tiarri Washington (Class of ’24)

A 2020 Freshman by Esther Thomson

I’ve recently learned that if you travel to Pluto, you would see what the earth looked like 10 years ago. So basically, you would travel back in time. It would all look the same, because ten years isn’t long enough to change so wildly that you can see it from 3.197 billion miles away, but maybe if you looked hard enough you could see a difference, smaller clouds, bigger forests, etc. So I guess what you could get from this is that nothing is important, we’re only tiny beings in a huge universe, and everything we do doesn’t really matter. But, that isn’t true.

When I thought of socially distance learning, I thought of facetiming with my new cool SOTA friends while doing “cool SOTA things,” but of course that hasn’t happened. Our teachers did not give us any time to talk to each other, all of our classes are just lessons, with no time to talk to each other. Though the teachers are not the ones to blame since it isn’t anyone’s fault. When we are put into breakout rooms, we turn our cameras off, and mute ourselves. I mean, what are we supposed to do, talk to each other? Weird. 

It’s almost two months away from half way through the school year and I feel like it’s still the second week of school. We haven’t really gone anywhere with school, or so it feels like. I feel like I’m just sitting at my screen with someone talking to their screen, and I write things down for the next hour. We haven’t made any moments to be remembered, because everyday is endlessly repetitive—just listening all day. Occasionally getting to say something, even if it’s just a hello. I mean, it feels like the whole concept of time is just a social construct. Time has gone by so fast, it doesn’t seem real. It feels like someone is just lying to me on what day it is. How is it possible that almost 4 months have gone by?

So maybe time’s just a social construct that was just invented so we could plant food at the right time when we were cavemen, and now we can’t live without time. We can’t function without time. But if time is really just a social construct, why would we be able to see earth ten years ago from Pluto. I don’t think Pluto has a society, so maybe time has always existed, and we just labeled it time just like we label everything. Nothing feels real anymore, everything is digital, and usually I would love to be on my computer all day, but it’s been half a year, and I want this to be over. I want to be able to make memories with people. I want to be able to laugh with someone. 

Esther Barad Thomson (Class of ’24)